On the 11th March, Giorgio Rand, Trevelyan College’s JCR President, published a statement on behalf of his JCR stating that “we as a JCR shall begin investigating options and processes to disassociate Trevs JCR from the DSU.”
The statement came in part as a result of recent controversy surrounding the Students’ Union officer elections, and, in particular, the disqualification of votes cast for RON (re-open nominations).
“campaign to elect their own successors.”Giorgio Rand
However, Rand also sited other issues, ranging from “continual mismanagement,” “hypocrisy,” “electioneering,” and “offensive behaviour.”
Of particular concern was the allegation that while JCRs could not endorse particular candidates, incumbent SU officers were able to “campaign to elect their own successors.”
Rand also raised the fact that the SU’s “internal democracy review” did not consult with JCR presidents and SU reps, despite an implication from the SU that this was the case.
In response to the statement, Gareth Hughes, Chief Executive of the Students’ Union, told Palatinate that “We take the comment very seriously, and want to work with Trevs students to make sure that their SU represents them well. We’re really concerned that there’s a belief that declaring the result was undemocratic.”
Hughes also sought to reassure Trevelyan College students that they “remain able to access Durham SU’s independent Advice Service, student groups or Associations, democratic processes, Nightbus or other services; we will not turn away any student wishing to engage or seeking assistance.”
“What is clear is that people really care”Gareth Hughes
Defending the decision to disqualify Re-Open Nominations (RON), Hughes argued that “Campaigners for RON broke the Rules and there is a consequence to that… the size of support for a campaign doesn’t make a candidate immune from the Rules, however controversial the outcome.”
Regarding the allegations that incumbent SU officers had endorsed candidates to succeed them, Hughes pointed out that “Incumbent Officers and Officers-elect don’t have any role other than as members of the electorate.”
However, Hughes reflected that “What is clear is that people really care, and what we’ve taken from the Re-Open Nominations campaign is that we need to do more listening and work out exactly what students want to change.”
Image: Durham University